Acknowledgements The design team would like to thank all who collaborated in development of this project: Brendan Greaves, Public Art and Community Design Director North Carolina Arts Council Tammy Kelly, County Extension Director Lenoir County Cooperative Extension Sandy Landis, Director Kinston Community Council for the Arts Wayne Martin, Folklife Director North Carolina Arts Council Scott A. Stevens, City Manager City of Kinston African American Music Trail project participants City of Kinston stakeholders
This project was supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The African American Music Trail connects places and people in order to commemorate the rich heritage of African American music in Eastern North Carolina and to inspire residents and visitors alike to celebrate, sustain and perpetuate the region’s vital musical history and traditions.”
Users of the African American Music Trail need not be passive consumers of the history of a place. Trail users can become active participants in the continuance of the best of local rituals and traditions. In addition to requirements for public art, this document includes broader recommendations encouraging trail users to participate in musical heritage in the present tense. Community revitalization, new venue creation, infrastructure improvements, and an increased presence in the virtual world all combine to support the physical trail.
Introduction The African American Music Trail (AAMT) project asks this question: How can the musical heritage of an area be interpreted in the public realm? Each term in this statement provides rich territory for exploration. Heritage, for the purposes of this project, is not solely a process of documenting the past, but also a process of identifying key trends and patterns over time that can inform a better understanding of the future. In the case of Kinston, the future entails interpreting African American musical heritage to acknowledge the contributions of extraordinary people, but also to catalyze broader economic opportunities that enhance city life. Musical heritage is inextricably tied to the broader heritage of a community. For African Americans in the South, music is more than just a listening experience. Music encompasses all of the culturally legible dynamics of performance: performer and audience (co-performers), call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation. Music also highlights how African cultural expressions intermingle with the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the American experience. African rituals morphed into work songs, gospels, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, pop, and hip hop. Who knows what will come next? What is more critical is that there are patterns throughout these forms that transcend their time and place. These are the patterns leveraged for design inspiration in the AAMT.
This approach addresses contemporary attitudes of urbanism and an ongoing redefinition of the public realm. It is necessary to buttress city building with a wide range of layered strategies to affect positive change. And the setting where much of this change could occur, the public realm, is transforming rapidly. No longer do most city residents congregate in formal public spaces. The current generation of emerging music aficionados will use iTunes before they go to a formal record store, they will watch videos on YouTube before they go to an actual concert, and will play Rock Band before they take a music class. Their “public,” more and more, comprises not only the physical environments and people where they work, live, shop and play. Their public realm also includes social networking websites and other virtual interfaces we have yet to discover. However, this doesn’t invalidate “real world” experiences. Increased activity in virtual places adds an emerging layer of expectation to the functions and uses of physical places. Physical environments allow for those unexpected and sensory experiences, those “happy accidents,” that sustain cultural life. In the physical environment, people are actively engaged with each other and their surroundings—“Straight no chaser,” to quote North Carolina native jazz great Thelonious Monk. Virtual environments allow for the manipulation of data, images and sound. Access to historical archives, engagement with new media, and even contribution to anecdotal knowledge through blogs are now mainstream activities occurring in virtual space. But online activities lack the mechanisms to leverage the indirect and informal, the “happy accidents.”
Increased activity in virtual environments has the potential to positively impact uses in physical spaces, especially cultural experiences like the AAMT. Data-rich virtual experiences can enhance physical experiences. People using the AAMT will be able to visit places, see historic photographs and maps of what was once there, listen to playlists by artists from these places, or get information about current performances and events. They will be able to do so in absence of the site, while on site, and in reflection after visiting historic places. This range of potential engagement situations, blurring the line between virtual and physical experiences of place, is a key concept applied to the AAMT vision planning process. Kinston is a unique community for many reasons. From a musical heritage perspective, this relatively small communityâ€™s ability to produce globalcaliber musical talent, its consistent ability to draw and support iconic musicians for performances, and the propensity for local musicians to return home are trends to be celebrated. Additionally, the lack of clear answers explaining why these phenomena occurred weaves an exciting thread of intrigue that invites exploration. We welcome your comments and appreciate the opportunity to assist with the vision of such an important project.
Context Kinston, North Carolina is a city of 23,000 located at the westernmost navigable point on the Neuse River. Born “Kingston,” its origins predate the War of Independence (when the city changed it’s name to “Kinston,” rejecting colonial affiliations.) It was a small agrarian community for most of its history, achieving some prominence after the Civil War and the economic boom surrounding tobacco. Kinston suffered from economic decline in the post-World War II era, but has been buttressed by the location of a community college, some industry, and growth in the Global Transpark. Recently, Kinston has marketed its strategic location along the route to popular coastal beaches and moved towards heritage tourism as an economic development strategy. This follows national trends where communities are utilizing unique natural and cultural features to leverage growth and development. Kinston has marketed its heritage as a critical site in the War of Independence and the Civil War and has successfully attracted funding and resources. Pride of Kinston, a city development organization, the Kinston Community Council for the Arts (KCCA), and the Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department have all played pivotal roles in the city’s redefinition as a place for tourism and leisure.
However, the story of Kinston’s African American heritage has not received much public emphasis in the broader community. Currently, the city is 60% African American, and the dearth of public symbols of the heritage of the city’s majority population presents unique challenges. The stories of black Kinstonians, particularly in the context of the city’s rich musical heritage, represent a unique opportunity to engage a wide and diverse range of city stakeholders. The cultural specifics of the African American experience in Kinston are worthy of much lengthier discussion than can be addressed in this report. However, what follows is a summary of key touchstones that situate musical heritage in a broader cultural narrative of the development of the city. African Americans began their time in Kinston nearly 400 years ago, most enslaved and working in area plantations. This era coincides with the beginning of African American musical heritage in the South. African musical traditions adapted to different environments, societies, and religious beliefs. African rituals associated with field work became work songs and shouts, call and response-driven forms of expression. The Christian church provided a safe harbor for African Americans to express themselves, using the language of religion to maintain cultural traditions. Gospel music, epitomized later in Kinston by Mitchell’s Christian Singers, grew as a unique hybrid of African, European, and American rituals of worship.
For African Americans, the post-Civil War era began with the hopes of Emancipation and Reconstruction. However, these progressive times soon descended into the hardships of Jim Crow and Segregation. Migration to urban centers, the growth of railroads, and the emergence of recording and broadcast technologies afforded new and expansive territory to showcase a Southern musical tradition, the blues. Equal parts catalog of the everyday experiences of regular people, references to spiritual beliefs and aspirations, and struggles with difficult conditions, the blues emerged as the most popular music of its time. Piedmont blues, a strain focusing on finger-picked guitar and the human voice, put North Carolina on the musical map. Unfortunately, some of the spaces in Kinston where blues thrived were lost in Hurricanes Fran and Floyd. Many homes and venues were flooded out, because in the early 20th century, most African Americans in Kinston lived in Lincoln City, Sugar Hill, and other neighborhoods built precariously in the floodplain of the Neuse River. On the heels of the blues came jazz, an innovative mix of composition and improvisation that featured ensemble play. Born in cities and responding to urban experiences, this musical form quickly circulated through many contexts. Solo improvisation, pioneered by New Orleans great Louis Armstrong, revolutionized the music and gave a shape to emerging musical voices. Armstrong performed in Sheppard’s Warehouse in Kinston. The demand for global leaders of jazz in Kinston led to the development of the New Recreation Center in Dreamland, a district loosely arranged along Tower Hill Street. The center’s inaugural concert was Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie’s performance to a crowd of 3000. Kinston musicians expanded on Dreamland and developed their own venues for jazz performance. These performance spaces catalyzed an entire network of formal and informal places for budding musicians to develop their “chops.” Places like Sugar Hill also emerged as important cultural districts. Tobacco warehouses commonly transformed into places for segregated dances after hours. Front porches became practice rooms. And holein-the wall speakeasies and clubs became key locations for experiencing this innovative art form. Since jazz performance requires a high degree of professional musical skill, music teachers played an increasing role in the growth and development of young Kinston musical talent. As jazz gave way to other forms of popular music, jazz musicians wanting to continue their careers adapted to popular sounds. Rhythm and blues, combining the sacred sounds of gospel with the secular topics of everyday life, became the dominant musical form. This movement coincided with the rise of the American Civil Rights Movement, fueled in part by African American soldiers returning from World War I and World War II, where they were compelled to fight for a country that did not recognize their rights as citizens at home. The tension between the ideal of citizenship and the reality of segregation is the dual language of rhythm and blues music, and it did not escape Kinston. African Americans struggled with the confines of Jim Crow by day and sang and danced, envisioning a fairer, world by night. Kinston native Little Eva wrote “The Locomotion” and made the whole world dance, even in the face of repressive laws in her own hometown.
Lincoln City, much of which was devastated by hurricanes Fran and Floyd, lies beneath the flood plain. The people living in the neighborhood pictured above had to relocate.
In 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education heralded the inevitable end of “separate but equal” and abolished the legalized segregation of African Americans. Soul music, and later funk music, emerged in stride with African Americans exercising their increased cultural and political power. Combined with innovations in instruments, recording and broadcasting, these forms of music reveled in newly reclaimed cultural independence. Soul and funk arguably became more accessible to people worldwide than any other preceding form of music. James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” discovered Kinston native Melvin Parker and asked him to play drums in his legendary band. However, Melvin asked that Brown also take on his younger brother, Maceo. Maceo Parker’s unique saxophone sound revolutionized jazz and funk instrumentation while echoing cultural rituals that are still relevant in his hometown: “Pass the peas, like they used to say!” The contemporary decline of agriculture and manufacturing in Kinston sent some of the African American community into poverty. The city’s declining tax base resulted in declining city services in many neighborhoods, including musical instruction and social services. Kinston’s population actually shrank over the late part of the 20th century, and the places once vital in African American communities fell into disrepair. Urban renewal policies cleared large swathes of communities east of Queen Street and many main street buildings on Kinston’s main thoroughfare. Later, Hurricanes Fran and Floyd all but eliminated Lincoln City. That community’s residents were relocated out of the floodplain, but apart from the community life of their previous homes. All of these forces combined to send South Queen Street, the public address of the African American community in Kinston, into decline.
These were the common ingredients shared by many urban centers that gave birth to hip hop. Pioneered by people of color in the South Bronx, New York, hip hop includes rap music, DJ culture, breakdancing, and grafitti art. This form of expression has been termed “the street corner’s CNN,” and gave a voice to the underclass struggling inconspicuously in many American cities. Hip hop culture emerged with the birth of digital media and video technology. Today, anyone with a computer and internet access has the tools to express him/herself and to share his/her music to a wide audience. Even now, Kinston youth are uploading homemade rap videos to YouTube and other social networking servers. For many, this is their first and only experience of Kinston’s musical heritage. Meanwhile, mentorship programs like the North Carolina Arts Council’s TAPS (Traditional Arts Programs in Schools) are working to reintroduce Kinston youth to musical traditions, namely jazz performance. The high popularity of the high school band program, and its high percentage of graduates that go on to pursue musical careers, reveal the emerging demand for people in Kinston to reconnect to their heritage. Live performance, where musicians and audiences engage in a dialogue and marvel at the improvisations of the moment, is coming back to Kinston. Assisting people in reconnecting to Kinston’s role in the sustenance of musical heritage is a prime objective of the African American Music Trail.
An aerial photograph of downtown Kinston and the Neuse River.
Mr. Brymm was born in Kinston toward the end of the 1800’s, and his music was played across the United States and throughout Europe. Mr. Brymm was the composer of “Josephine, My Jo.”
Through archival research, analysis of oral histories by Kinston African American musicians, and community workshop feedback (see Process section), certain conceptual themes were identified as essential aspects of Kinston’s African American music narrative: Scale and connections Narratives of music, musicians, and venues evoke a range of scales of encounter.
Concept There is a need for increased exposure to the cultural specificities of Kinston’s African American musical heritage. This can help provide residents and visitors with a layered and nuanced sense of place. Because a component of the AAMT is the physical connection to places that interpret history, clear connections between people, places and narratives are essential. However, it is also necessary to examine broader arcs and trends in the narrative of this community’s experience. Within the particulars of each story, there are connections to broader concepts and ideas. These can evolve into themes that help those wanting to learn about heritage find commonalities between their own narratives and those of Kinston’s African American musicians. Additionally, themes, supplemented with specific narratives, provide fertile creative ground for public artists to visualize essential qualities of an interpretive experience. Expanding from the particulars of a place to broader themes enable users of the trail to connect to information in more open and non-prescriptive ways. This open narrative, where users may even be able to contribute their own experiences to the broader narrative of African American music heritage, builds in mechanisms to continuously refresh and update the story of the AAMT. Open narratives also mirror internet user behaviors (blogging, social networking, user-generated content, etc.).
• • • • • • • •
Personal (struggles, triumphs, inspirations) Family (support, connections, identity) Spiritual (church communities, worship, the axis of sacred music) Neighborhood (venues, boundaries, social spaces) City (perceptions from without and within) Region (participation in tours, radio and tv broadcast ranges, regional cultural norms) National (citizenship and civil rights, aspiration, duality) Global (mainstream popularity, travel abroad, influence on perception of local places)
Adaptation Programmatic transformation of places of work (warehouses) and dwelling (front porches) into performance venues
Personal behavioral transformations due to societal norms during segregation Flexibility in synthesizing sounds and styles (there is no “Kinston musical style”)
Layering The narrative as palimpsest; dynamics of navigating multiple layers of narratives that coexist in the same space •
Ability for people to pursue threads more substantively over time and after relationships established with people/place
Performance The primary exchange of information between musicians and audiences, musicians and other musicians • •
The forum for experimentation and adaptation to call and response modes of interaction, with the audience as “co-performers” Metaphor for vital city spaces: City life requires places for people to “perform” daily rituals (work, shopping, education, worship, play, etc.)
Rhythms Music-derived metaphor of sonic patterns, relating to other city patterns, such as: • • •
Social life at day and at night Natural cycles, like the rise and fall of the Neuse River, storm events Polyrhythms—the overlay of multiple beat patterns (a characteristic of many African traditional music forms), sometimes resolved, sometimes discordant
Additional research led to a further distillation of themes into a concise and evocative conceptual design statement: “The African American Music Trail connects places and people in order to commemorate the rich heritage of African American music in Eastern North Carolina and to inspire residents and visitors alike to celebrate, sustain and perpetuate the region’s vital musical history and traditions.” This statement is intentionally broad and vague. However, through its keywords, the statement can connect to broader themes and more detailed analysis of Kinston’s African American music heritage. In a sense, the flow from detail to concept statement and back simulates the anticipated virtual activity enabled by the AAMT interactive media trail. And in combination with the physical trail, it is hoped that this conceptual attitude empowers artists to maximize the interpretive opportunities present.
NCAC staff selected Kinston as a hub for the first phase of trail design and public art because of its wealth of musical resources and the strength of local partnerships with the KCCA and the City of Kinston. The design team recommended that KCCA and NCAC pursue development of a virtual trail in tandem with the physical one. This proposal was in recognition of how many young people experience music now and anticipated embracing these trends as a means to provide the African American Music Trail with a built-in content updating process. All parties accepted this proposal and the design team began their investigation. Process The NC State Design team was hired via a Creative Economies grant awarded by the North Carolina Arts Council (NCAC) to the Kinston Community Council for the Arts (KCCA). The specific challenge was to develop a pilot process for locating a trail interpreting African American musical heritage in Kinston in Lenoir County, NC. Additionally, the design team was asked to develop preliminary concepts for public art in key loÂŹcations to interpret African American music history. These concepts will utilize publically-owned sites through municipal and county license agreements with the North Carolina Arts Council. The conceptual design development was to be sufficient to issue Request for Qualifications (RFQs) for artists to design commissioned work, including public art enhancements and interactive computer kiosks. This pilot design effort leveraged previous work done by the African American Music Project, including a rich archive of over 60 oral histories by Kinston musiÂŹcians. The findings of the pilot design project will inform subsequent planning efforts in an eight county region of Eastern North Carolina identified by the NCAC as the general context of the African American Music Trail: Edgecombe, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt, Wayne, and Wilson Counties. This document represents the results of the first design study for the AAMT project, a collaboration between the NCAC, local arts agencies such as KCCA, and resident musicians and community stakeholders, with funding from the NC Department of Transportation.
The design team pursued the project using layered strategies. Direct community engagement through meetings and workshops provided Kinston stakeholders with a way to selfreport their ideas and perceptions. Archival research through historic maps, images and recordings provided rich data to analyze oral narratives. Most importantly, historic Sanborn maps linked narratives to actual places. Design workshops enabled Kinston stakeholders to vet archival research and supplement information that has not yet been recorded. And review of current city policies allowed design concepts to work in line with all relevant regulations. The community engagement process kicked off with meetings with stakeholders, a site visit, and a thorough analysis of archival research about music history in Kinston and Lenoir County, NC. Previous NCAC efforts referenced by the design team included the AAMT Lenoir County Resource Inventory, a substantial record of oral histories involving over 60 Kinston native musicians and music supporters.
1. Will Beech’s barbershop (one of several) 2. Jam session place (upstairs from barbershop) 3. Elks Club 4. Inferno Club - Washington St. 5. Cotton Club - North St. (Beech) 6. Free Will Baptist Church 7. WEUS - radio station 8. WFTC - radio station 9. Garter Court 10. Melvin and Maceo Parker born here 11. Ulysses Hardy - The Mighty Blue Notes 12. Club 110 - W. Shine & Queen 13. Club 101 - Hwy 11 14. Margaret’s (club) 15. Andy’s Record Shop 16. St James AME 17. Beckers Funeral Home 18. Sahara Club - Washington & Adkin 19. Bovon Inn Club/Auxillary Shack - Hwy 11 20. Robert Lowery - Thompson St. 21. Gospel music venue (replaced Tower Hill) 22. Walker Sandwich Shop 23. Jam session place 24. 1013 Tower Hill Rd. Thornton Canady’s career started here 25. Adkin High School - local musicians trained here 26. Tower Hill School – venue for performances and dances 27. New Rec. Center and later, Dreamland venue - Beech 28. Willie Mitchell’s home (off alley) 29. Wilbert Croom’s home 30. Joyce Garrett’s birthplace 31. Levi Raspberry’s birthplace 32. Kinston College 33. Papa Root’s home 34. Melvin & Maceo Parker residence - Railroad St. 35. Zack Greene’s home 36. Geneva Perry’s home 37. Rendezvous Club - Bright St. 38. Sheppard’s Warehouse – Bright & Herritage * Based on workshop participants’ input
The design team prepared additional inventory information including community infrastructure, organization, and archival documents. The team worked directly with Kinstonâ€™s City Manager Scott Stevens to produce current site maps highlighting publically owned parcels out of state owned road rights of way. The design team also used Sanborn historic maps of the same area (circa 1948) to identify historic assets and locations necessary for inclusion in the trail. The design team led a site walk with key stakeholders and documented observations, questions, and ideas offered by Kinston residents. This was followed up by a series of two workshops held at the Kinston Community Council for the Arts. The first workshop invited a representative group of Kinston stakeholders to document their perceptions of potential trail sites and alignments, as well as their knowledge of historic resources to include in the trail. Additionally, the team administered a survey of public art preferences to inform design decisions. Kinston stakeholders expressed a diverse preference for public art. Preferences reported in a visual survey ranged from iconic pieces appropriate for gateways and symbolic places, to intimatescaled works. The design team led a parallel workshop for Kinston musicians and participants in the African American Music Project. This group was very informative in documenting historic sites and clarifying information gathered from other sources. Digital video of the session was used to document oral narratives, phrases, and key words, informing design decisions. A set of workshop materials remained at KCCA for follow-up documentation, and a newspaper article announcing the effort was drafted. Follow-up workshops are planned to continue the community vetting process beyond this preliminary pilot design study.
Analysis Historic patterns Analysis showed that much of Kinston’s musical heritage involved scattered sites loosely aggregated into nascent cultural districts. Businesses, homes, and other places served as venues for performances. Due to segregation, many of these venues aggregated in certain distinct neighborhoods: Sugar Hill, along Queen Street between Bright and Shine; Lincoln City, south of Lincoln Street to the river; and Dreamland, along Tower Hill Street to old Adkin High School. Although many of these places had names visible on the Sanborn maps, they were not highlighted in analysis until workshop participants corroborated claims. Kinston stakeholders and musicians directly identified key sites and informed the design team of Dreamland in workshop sessions. Many of the areas where music history occurred are located in or near the 100-year flood line of Kinston. Many were in the flood plain of the Neuse River. Introduction of structures and any grading in these sites will require special studies to demonstrate that they will not impede stormwater runoff and flow in a flood event. Railroad lines once loosely connected the three dominant zones in Kinston’s African American musical heritage. Some lines, like those along Bright Street, no longer exist, but others remain as abandoned rights of way. They could become opportunities for non-motorized connections in the long term. Musicians participating in workshops were unable to express why Kinston was such a hot bed of musical talent and a magnet for international performers. This sense of mystery about Kinston’s status as a musical Mecca—is it something in the water?—could be an advantage and infuse design recommendations in various sites. It lends itself to open narratives of history and experience.
Current patterns Kinston stakeholders and musicians identified a lack of appropriate local venues for live performance in the city. They recognized that there are existing venues, but many are outsized to foster intimate performer/audience dynamics. They advocated introducing several small venues that could accommodate the audience scale preferred by Kinston’s African American musicians (historically often 100 people and smaller.) Neuseway Park was identified as a place where additional layers of interpretive and performance infrastructure could fit. Despite its distant location from actual musical historic sites, it was perceived as “common ground” and desirable for interpretive work. “Sand in the Streets” and other music events are already well-supported and would benefit from integration with AAMT performers. At minimum, connecting the trail to this resource was encouraged.
The proposed relocation of Kinston’s “All-American Park” to a strategic location in a four-acre empty lot at the end of South Queen Street emerged as a design opportunity for the AAMT. Kinston stakeholders recommended integrating public art and the AAMT into this new park site, which could be rechristened the “All-American Music Park.” This site, the largest selected, lies in close proximity to the South Queen Street and Sugar Hill neighborhoods historically important to the African American community.
An abandoned police box on North Queen Street was proposed for adaptive re-use as an interpretive exhibit. Not unlike Neuseway Park, the police box bears little geographic relationship to the places where African American music thrived in Kinston. However, its visibility and proximity to active uses downtown make it a strategic resource capable of supporting new uses. Future patterns A new shopping area is under way at the intersection of King Street and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This new center is anticipated to be an important and well-used amenity in the neighborhoods connected by the AAMT. Additionally, the intersection of these two streets will become a roundabout. The City Manager offered this roundabout as a potential candidate for the integration of public art during a future phase of the project.
Preliminary trail plan The physical trail Even with the constraints of publicly owned sites, there was still a need to further refine candidate sites for the trail and public art. In urban areas, the connectivity of trails is a significant challenge. City streets, block sizes, and other modes of transportation fragment trail experiences. Geographic location on or near significant interpretive experiences is critical to the success of an urban trail. But given the lack of physical continuity in urban trails, two additional site selection criteria emerge: 1) trail alignments should favor areas that maximize pedestrian and nonmotorized comfort; and 2) trail alignments should integrate with existing and emerging patterns of daily use in urban environments. These criteria place a priority on streets that are either comfortable or lend themselves to modifications that enhance pedestrian comfort without compromising other modes of transportation. They also highlight the need for intensive study of daily use patterns by local stakeholders. For these reasons, a loop and three corridors emerged as first phase candidates for the African American Music Trail in Kinston: Loop Blount Street/Herritage Street and Neuseway Park/King Street/Queen Street •This loop is walkable in 30 minutes and is geared to short-term visitors. It is anchored by the Kinston Community Council for the Arts facility and connects the “Jukebox” to elements in Neuseway Park. Corridors North street/Tower Hill Street from Neuseway Park to the Adkin Branch •This corridor connects downtown to Dreamland. It is a longer walk and geared to those interested in a more significant time investment on the trail. It is uniquely pedestrian scaled, featuring a terminating view to Adkin Branch creek. It suffers from a significant barrier in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Ways of overcoming this barrier should be a priority.
Bright Street from Herritage street to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard •This corridor marks an edge of Sugar Hill. It is a longer walk and geared to those interested in more significant time on the trail. Coordination between street improvements and future improvements to Simon Bright Homes is necessary for a successful trail experience. Shine Street from Herritage street to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard •This corridor marks an edge of “Sugar Hill.” It is a longer walk and geared to those interested in spending more significant time on the trail. Coordination between street improvements, adjacent cemetery improvements, and future improvements to Simon Bright Homes are necessary for a successful trail experience. Shine Street also provides the opportunity to link future trails to “Lincoln City.” Additional routes and locations can extend from the central loop and corridors. Because many of the other historic sites are scattered, it is recommended that subsequent trail design involve direct engagement with community stakeholders. Beyond the first phase, trail design should integrate streetscape improvements with access to historic sites. Additionally, the Adkin Branch and abandoned rail right of way offer potential ways of connecting the two broad corridors into a more functional loop trail. Options for looping this trail should be a priority. It could greatly enhance trail function, as well as better integrating AAMT enhancements into the daily lives of Kinston residents.
Preliminary site proposals For the purposes of this project, public art is a broad and inclusive term. It encompasses traditional forms of public art as well as landscape, interactive media and other emerging forms. But regardless of form, public art locations should respond to context-specific situations in enabling ways. The design team developed public art site selection criteria that work to accomodate additional sites for later project phases, as well as to place elements within selected sites during the present phase. These criteria include: Placeâ€”Place includes all of the physical, perceptual, and symbolic elements of a space. These elements are informed by careful consideration of the past and present uses of a space, as well as speculation about the future of the proposed public art site.
Potential Design Concepts for the AAMT
Potential Design Concepts for the AAMT
Capacity—Capacity addresses the abilities of supporting physical and organizational infrastructure to sustain the public art site. Community values and perception, as well as resources available to maintain a public art site are all considerations for public art site selection. Impact—Impact describes the rational and intuitive predictors of a successful relationship between artifact and site. These predictors include the potential for artifact and site to provoke different and unexpected relationships between public art and its audience. Per these criteria, the four Kinston sites selected in the first phase of public art development include: Neuseway park—short term: The primary public art opportunity entails enhancing the existing stage area with a canopy structure that both provides shelter and communicates Kinston’s African American Music heritage. In the illustrative example, a translucent box encloses the stage area. During performances, the panels of the box can be rearranged to form a more traditional band shell for acoustic enhancements and performance during adverse weather. For other events, the sides of the box can be opened to create a broad canopy. And when the stage is not in use, the box can be closed, providing surfaces for video projection and multimedia presentations.
Long term: Multiple sites to enhance current outdoor music performance activities. These sites include a new canopy covering an enhanced outdoor performance area and several gateways enhancing visual access from the city to the park.
Police box renamed “Jukebox”—Adaptive reuse of a city owned police box on Queen street including installation of large digital projection area above the box. Box programming will include access to the AAMT website, Kinston cultural events information, as well as music and playlists associated with music heritage in Kinston.
Kinston Community Center for the Arts “Jukebox”—An interactive kiosk housed inside of KCCA with access to the AAMT website, Kinston cultural events information, as well as music and playlists associated with music heritage in Kinston. This modular jukebox represents a smaller, more intimate version of the Queen Street Jukebox concept.
Proposed Queen Street Jukebox Projection Schematic
Proposed KCCA Jukebox Table Schematic
window case camera system
4 feet 8 feet
"!#"$$! $-5/.6-3 "!#"$$!
Police â€œJukeâ€? box Interactive Window Diagram Urban Design Center FQuee St Kinston
Proposed All-American Park renamed “All American Music Park”—A 4 acre area targeted to become the new home of Kinston’s All American Park. Formerly the site of a tobacco warehouse, possibly used for evening performances by Kinston musicians. Design suggestions comprise landform and informal outdoor performance areas in a park-like setting. A descriptive package was developed for each site, including the location, historical context, proposed uses and scale required of a piece of public art. Conceptual drawings were developed to convey the intent of each site design effort. The packages were designed not to inhibit artists seeking commissioned work on the current phase of the AAMT project, but rather to inspire and to provide an eventual design context within which to work.
Marks the foundation wall of the previous warehouse; informal seating and performance areas.
The Musicians’ Village District Planning priorities to enhance existing neighborhood adjacent to the “All American Music Park.” Targeting the lifestyle needs of senior Kinston musicians, including performance and music education, and recreation. Elements include quality housing, performance venues, and mixed use space to support a high quality of life.
Sculpted mounds for seating and recreation, dynamic sound reflection between mounds, and interactive wave fences tuned to play songs with contact.
Programming: Scenario Building AAMT: 8 Scenarios Each of the public art sites and each segment of the physical trail will require programming to activate the spaces. Successful programming necessitates speculating on future needs of the space, as well as accommodating compatible daily uses. Good guidelines abound for addressing spatial dimensions and support needs for well-designed public spaces. However, there is little information about the potential users of the African American Music Trail. Who will use the trail? How? And what will they need to maximize their experiences? The design team recommends keeping detailed information about trail and public art site use. Documentation of uses, successes, failures, and unexpected outcomes can improve future decisions. In the meantime, building scenarios from demographic profiles is a reliable form of speculating on the wide range of potential issues with a space. From preliminary research, the following user groups were identified as potential future users of the trail: • • • • • • • •
Short-term regional visitors—who may stop over en route to other regional destinations Returning expatriates—who may be reconnecting to their hometown and local culture Programmed groups (including area school and music groups)—who may take guided tours and need additional information/support. Residents—who will use the sites as a part of daily life Uniformed casual users—who will use the sites without knowing the AAMT story Musicians—who may use the sites for performance and education Area workers and professionals—who may use the AAMT for leisure Foreign fans and tourists—who may seek out Kinston after accessing the virtual trail
What follows are examples of demographic profiles using a series of “fictional narratives.” Each narrative vignette is connected to a descriptive category encompassing the uses associated with a certain projected demographic reflected by resident and visitor characteristics in Kinston. These examples do not offer specific guidelines, but they do suggest some opportunities available to enhance diverse user experiences.
Discover I’d never heard of Kinston, but we needed to stop on the way to the beach. There was this kiosk Jukebox there, and we started playing with it and learned about the African American Music Trail. We biked from the Center for the Arts to the waterfront and saw some great art. We only had 30 minutes this time, but we’ll definitely be back soon. Remember I grew up in Kinston, right across the street from a family of musicians. I left the area but recently came back to check on some friends. What a wonderful surprise! There was a gorgeous sign designating the house as an historic landmark. Looks like they even got some money to fix the place up. I’m glad that this town didn’t forget its past. Educate I’m in marching band in New Bern, and we were practicing a routine with the song “The Locomotion.” My band teacher told us that Little Eva, the woman who wrote and performed it, was from Kinston, and we took a class trip to walk the African American Music Trail. It was cool how we could go somewhere, call a number on my cell phone, and have somebody tell us all about what we were looking at! I didn’t know that Little Eva wasn’t the only one from Kinston to make it big. It made us all put a little bit more into the performance. Play We were bored so me and my brother sat on these benches. When we moved, the benches started playing music. It was really cool! Perform Used to be you couldn’t find any place to play except this Chinese restaurant on the north side of town. Then this African American Music Trail came, and we got little spots opening up all over the place. I’m not saying it’s like playing in New York. But it’s good to be here and have a place that wants to keep the music alive. Build When the economy went down, I lost my job at this construction company. I was reading the paper and saw a want ad for something called the African American Music Trail. I interviewed, and I’ve been fixing sidewalks and planting trees. Along the way, been picking up some interesting history about Kinston and the music scene. I’m not gonna be a millionaire, but working on this trail… it makes me feel like I’m making a difference.
Relax Had yet another change order on a new airplane part, and my boss went through the roof. We decided to go down to Queen Street and blow off some steam in those big grass bean bags they’ve got in that new park. Plugged in the iPod and forgot all about the job for a little while. Thanks! Connect I’m writing to you from Munich, Germany. I just got home from a great concert by Maceo Parker. He’s my idol. I looked him up on the internet and found out about this African American Music Trail. All I can say is, wow! The pictures, music, videos, and stuff make me want to come to Kinston and see this for myself. Thank you so much! Preliminary virtual space proposals Interactive web-based content Concurrently, the design team compiled, analyzed, and developed a prototype new media interface for interacting with virtual information on the AAMT. This web-based interface archives current and historic mapping of the area with tabs linking to historical images, music, and other media. The interface can be navigated using an on-screen map or a thematic interface centered around various types of content (archival, current events, etc.) This interface will be accessible via the internet and may even be accessed and used on actual AAMT trail sites (with wifi capability), including at the KCCA Jukebox (see pages 48-51). Other recommendations Cultural district approaches—The design team learned that many of the most significant sites to Kinston’s African American musical heritage were scattered within three broad neighborhoods: Sugar Hill, Lincoln City, and Dreamland. Although Bright, Shine and Tower Hill Streets (city-owned rights of way) generally aggregate these places, there is no clear direct line linking them all. Therefore, it is proposed that the trail focus on nonmotorized transportation enhancements and wayfinding strategies along Bright, Shine, and Tower Hill. But broader community development efforts must occur to enhance the overall infrastructure of these historic communities and allow for indirect movement and engagement with historic sites on the AAMT. Establishing an historic or arts and cultural district or districts may be useful to coordinate community and trail needs that result in enhancements enjoyed by all. AAMT archive in KCCA—Given KCCA’s role in supporting the music project effort and its continuing role as common ground for many Kinstonians, the design team recommends that KCCA assume the role of repository of the AAMT archives. These archives will include papers,
memorabilia, recordings and other information for future use in the AAMT. The preferred space would have ground floor access and frontage on Queen Street, maximizing visibility and ease of use. Additionally, the archive could be co-located with the information kiosk. The archive should include a space for reviewing materials, and a user-friendly means for Kinston musicians to access their works. Performance venues—The best way to experience the music of the AAMT is in live performance, and there is a need for more intimate performance venues in Kinston. Of particular relevance are small-scale venues, distributed as they were historically, but in locations that can activate the AAMT. In addition to the waterfront festivals, efforts should be made to include small venue planning along North and South Queen Street, as well as in historic neighborhoods. Integration with TAPS program—A successful NCAC high school musician mentorship and jazz instruction curriculum (TAPS) exists in Kinston and should be leveraged to integrate explicitly with trail events and activities. Students in this program are an ideal match for testing and contributing to the AAMT alignment and content. Additionally, the trail sites can become performance venues for their curricular development. Kinston AAMT development and growth Future directions Instead of prescribing additional long-term trail routes (outside of Herritage, Queen, Shine, Bright, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Tower Hill Streets), the design team recommends expanding on the cultural district recommendation. Rather than investing significant resources into additional corridors, encouraging more comprehensive investment in neighborhood infrastructure (roads, walks, trees, etc.) would facilitate connections to scattered AAMT-related sites. Treating neighborhoods as cultural districts, engaging residents, and coordinating infrastructure enhancements that serve the community and the trail are key opportunities. Public art and new media could be tools used to visualize neighborhood transformations. Context-sensitive trail development The design team prepared a menu of public art ideas to catalyze discussions of future AAMT sites. This menu, combined with the scenario matrix and the public art site selection criteria, form a substantial decision making process that can enable informed public art planning.
Musicians’ Village Anecdotal stories of the end of life situations of many Kinstonborn artists suggest that more could be done to acknowledge their contributions while still living. Many are seniors, on fixed incomes, and are underserved by community resources. Many lack outlets to transfer their formidable musical knowledge to future generations. Additionally, many chose to return to Kinston, even after enjoying more affluent lifestyles elsewhere. The design team recommends that a defined zone within the neighborhoods producing many of these musicians be identified as a “Musicians’ Village.” The design team recommends three blocks, north of the “All-American Music Park” and west of Queen Street, as a location. This development would include several blocks and place a priority on infrastructure and service enhancements geared towards attracting and sustaining senior musicians with dignity. Affordable housing, access to healthy food, exercise, cultural activities, and health services should be priorities. The design team suggests that the AAMT archive eventually transition from the KCCA to the Musicians’ Village as it develops the capacity to steward this significant resource. Venues should be created to encourage the transfer of knowledge. Formal performance, rehearsal, and curricular spaces are desirable. A virtual online Musicians’ Village could become a distance-learning function for the web-based AAMT. Students from across the world could interact with Kinston musicians via the AAMT. DELTA at NC State University offers a good model of distance learning that requires nominal investments in digital infrastructure.
Dreamland Gardens Tower Hill Street currently lacks a strong eastern terminus to the AAMT. However, the area once known as Dreamland was cleared and is now part of the extended floodplain of Adkin Branch. This creek corridor has great potential as a greenway linkage serving the community and the broader city. Integrating public art into site elements in this location could enhance an important greenway trailhead merging the AAMT with another emerging piece of infrastructure. The “windows” concept proposed in this report, coupled with “Jazz Gardens” (see below) and other informal spaces could combine to create an engaging gateway to this part of the community.
Lincoln City Revival Park Lincoln City, the historic home to a significant number of Kinston musicians, was largely destroyed by Hurricane Fran and Hurricane Floyd. The area is dominated by FEMA buyout property. Strict regulations on this property prevent redevelopment of this area as a residential community. The loss of this community has had a direct negative impact on the vitality of South Queen Street. Although conceived as a park for community use, the area is currently barricaded from the rest of the neighborhood; streets and other infrastructure still exist, but everything else is in the process of succession. The woods are reclaiming the neighborhood.
Redefining the use of this area and reintegrating it into the life of the neighborhood should be high long-term priorities. Public art can play a role in redevelopment. Commemorating the homes lost to hurricanes can help to offer symbolic closure to those who lost their property and enhance wayfinding for visitors. Birdhouses, designed as scaled models of the previous homes, could offer current homes for wildlife and honor previous residents. Surface streets provide a unique canvas for artistic expression, games, athletic events and gathering spaces. Although residential structures are not allowed on FEMA buyout property, open air shelters are. A multi-purpose shelter, programmed for performances associated with Lincoln City reunions, could provide cultural relevance to the area. The area is in the floodplain and offers uniquely intimate encounters with diverse wildlife. Low-impact enterprises such as urban agriculture and fresh water fish farms are compatible with community needs (food security) and FEMA guidelines. All options for transforming Lincoln Cityâ€™s community use value should be considered as the AAMT moves forward.
Davis Street Greenway Rail lines used to run along Davis Street. This abandoned right of way is now vacant land strategically located in the middle of the core area connected by the AAMT. This land offers a unique off-street opportunity for non-motorized transportation, recreation, and urban agriculture. The former rail corridor warrants study as a potential link in the AAMT, as well as open public space leveraging broader community development. State infrastructure enhancements
South Queen Street bridge—Bridge improvements should include pedestrian access across bridge, pedestrian access crossing underneath (in utility right of way), and public art. Such enhancements are important to the success and accessibility of the All-American Music Park. King Street and Herritage—Enhance pedestrian access and comfort across King Street. Consider public art and other opportunities to celebrate crossing the river. Incorporate a bike lane on one side of Herritage.
Queen Street and other state owned rights of way are currently oversized for the level of traffic accommodated. This infrastructure fractures non-motorized and pedestrian movement and depreciates the image of the street. The design team recommends pursuing traffic calming devices that serve pedestrian continuity along the AAMT. Some specific locations in need of improvement, with design suggestions:
King Street and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd—Incorporate public art into proposed roundabout, enhance pedestrian safety and wayfinding. Incorporate a bike lane into one side of King and MLK Boulevard.
North Queen Street between Peyton and Blount—Coordinate streetscape improvements with rail realignment. Enhance pedestrian accessibility to KCCA. Maintain continuity of streetscape across railroad right of way through coordinated site features, including public art.
MLK Boulevard and Tower Hill Street—Explore alternatives to abrupt break in Tower Hill Street at this intersection. Tower Hill has significant historic value, is recommended as a major spine of the AAMT, and remains an important community corridor. Pedestrian crossing, signaling, wayfinding, and image enhancements are necessary.
North Queen Street and North—Develop wayfinding features to direct Kinston visitors to the Neuse River from Queen Street.
Note: Public art should be integrated into all public infrastructure projects. Enhanced pedestrian connections along AAMT routes and at key destinations can improve economic and social activity throughout the area.
Queen and King Streets—Coordinate streetscape and image-building enhancements to leverage this intersection as a Kinston gateway. Incorporate public art. South Queen and Bright/Shine—Coordinate streetscape and imagebuilding enhancements to support AAMT connections, wayfinding, safe pedestrian crossings across Queen, and the Musicians’ Village. Incorporate a bike lane on one side of South Queen, Bright and Shine Streets. South Queen and Lincoln—Integrate streetscape enhancements, including safer pedestrian crossing, continuity of AAMT route going across Queen Street. Incorporate a bike lane on one side of Lincoln Street.
King Street and Davis—Consider “Rail to Trail” reclamation of railroad corridor aligned on Davis Street (King to Chestnut.)
Conclusion The recommendations in this report are speculative and attempt to describe how heritage, public space, public art, and technology might support sustainable community development. It is the Design team’s belief that revealing Kinston’s rich music heritage and honoring the tradition of African American musicians represents a unique and sustainable resource for community development in Kinston and eastern North Carolina. Through direct community engagement, incremental proposals scaled to fit the capacity of communities, a commitment to vibrant programming, and an active presence in digital space, it is hoped that this pilot project catalyzes wide ranging and diverse experiences along the eight-county African American Music Trail.
Design Team: Kofi Boone, ASLA Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture NC State University, College of Design Patrick J. Fitzgerald Associate Professor, Department of Art+Design NC State University, College of Design Dr. Celen Pasalar Director, Downtown Design Studio NC State University, College of Design Kiddee Charoenpanitkul Design Intern Darren Sandvik Design Intern Sample Interactive Jukebox Screenshot
Published on Jun 15, 2012
How can music heritage translate into public space and programming in a small city? This report outlines the process by which African Americ...